Online Lecture 10

Research and Restoration of the Standing Figure of Jizo Bosatsu
(Ksitigarbha), Belonging to Koshoji Temple, Saitama Pref.

Professor YABUUCHI Satoshi, Assistant Professor MURAKAMI Kiyoshi Sculpture Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, Conservation Division, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music


The research and restoration of the standing figure of Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha), belonging to Koshoji Temple, Saitama Pref., was commissioned in early summer 2005 and completed in July 2006. In this article, we will present a report of our studies connected with this research and restoration.

It was the discovery of a document inside the statue during the early stages of restoration that proved it to be one of the Buddhist statues that were stolen in a series of robberies which took place in the Kumagaya and Honjo areas of Saitama Prefecture.
Luckily, in this case the final purchasers, Kumagaya City Board of Education, etc., were able to come to an understanding concerning its return. In the past it has been extremely rare for stolen cultural properties to be returned to their original owners and so this occasion is exceptional. Our laboratory is highly aware of the need to prevent the future theft of cultural properties and therefore we are considering ways to create a system by which temples, education boards, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the police, antique dealers, Buddhist implement dealers, and restorers can exchange information on stolen objects.

Object of the Research: To study an Edo period Buddhist statue, its sculpting techniques, structure, form, and restoration philosophy while simultaneously compiling technical and basic data on this work by the sculptor HOKKYO Jokyo.

Research/Restoration: Members of the Sculpture Conservation and Restoration Laboratory,Conservation Division, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Research/Restoration Collaboration: Members of the Conservation Science Laboratory,Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. The coloring staff of the Yabuuchi Satoshi Workshop.

Details of the Research: Examination and research the 'Standing Figure of Jizo Bosatsu' (Ksitigarbha), belonging to Koshoji Temple, creation of a record of its condition/state of preservation, and determination of the techniques used in its production. Simultaneously, cleaning of the surface for preservation reasons and the appropriate restoration/repair of any lose parts.

Photographs of Before and After the Work
(Photography by HAYAKAWA Koichi) 

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Before Restoration
After Restoration

Details of Statue

Name: Standing Figure of Jizo Bosatsu' (Ksitigarbha) Number of Figures: One
Owner: Jokoin Temple Religious Corporation, Saitama Prefecture Housed: Iozan, Rurikoin, Koshoji Location: Saitama Prefecture Cultural Property Designation: None Produced: Muromachi Period (1338-1573) Sculptor: Unknown
Restoration History: Major restoration undertaken in 1691 by the Buddhist sculptor HOKKYO Jokyo.
Inscriptions: Ink inscription inside the body that reads: 'On the "eleventh day, sixth month, 1691", the "believers in Jizo Bosatsu of Imai Village" asked "the Buddhist sculptor Hokkyo Jokyo of Nakahashi, Edo," to carry out repairs.'

Size (in centimeters)

Overall Size: 190.0
Figure. Height: 125.0, Width: 38.0, Depth: 38.0.
Pedestal. Height: 44.0, Width: 74.2, Depth: 61.5.
Halo. Height: 154.5, Width: 53.3, Depth: 22.0.
Staff. Height: 126.0, Width: 12.3, Depth: 4.8


Shaved head. Pierced ears and sando (three horizontal grooves in the neck). Chest ornament.
Pleated robe around waist, an inner robe, and an outer robe which passes from the right shoulder to the left shoulder and is then held under the arm. The left elbow is bent and there is a hoju (wish -fulfilling gem) in the left hand. The right arm slopes downwards and a shakujo (six-ringed staff) is grasped in the hand. Both feet are level and the figure stands on a lotus flower base.

Materials and Structure

This figure is made of coniferous wood thought to be Japanese cypress (hinoki) using the split-and -join method (the Edo-period restoration uses numerous small pieces of wood that have been glued into place). The head is made of a separate piece of wood with the neck being inserted into the body.

The head has been split slightly behind the vertex, along a line extending behind the ears, the inside hollowed out then the two halves joined. The face section has also been removed, the inside carved out and crystal eyes inserted from the inside. The seam from the right cheek to chin has had a thin piece of wood added. Bamboo pegs have been used at three places on the top and two places on the bottom to fix the face in place. The tenon of the neck joint fits into a mortise in the body that was left when the body was hollowed out, the join coming below the sando in the neck.

The main timbers of the body appear to date back to the statue's original production in the Muromachi period. The body has been split equally into four, down the median line and through the rear of the arms, and the inside hollowed out. Mortise joints were created in the hollowed-out area of the body and separate wood fitted into these in order to join the pieces together, but during the Edo-period restoration, these were replaced by small pieces of wood set at irregular intervals around the entire figure. Both hands and both feet were created using separate pieces of wood and fitted, using tenons of separate wood. A hoju (wish-fulfilling jewel) of separate wood has been attached to the palm of the left hand using a bamboo peg. Separate tenons have been fitted to mortises in the soles of both feet. The surface below the coloring has been prepared by covering the entire area with hemp cloth that was then coated with sabiurushi (a mixture of tonoko [burnt clay] and seshimeurushi [sap taken from the branch of the lacquer tree]).

State of Preservation

The glue that was used to join the various parts making up the body had deteriorated badly, to the extent that the statue was liable to disintegrate at any time. The joint at the neck was in extremely bad condition and there was considerable play. There was damage to the rear of the left earlobe. There was play in the seam of the wood visible on the right shoulder. There was an
inaccurate repair on the joint of the right wrist, resulting in a break in the continuity of the shape.
The end of the fifth finger of the right hand was missing. Damage could be seen on the lower side of the right hand close to the robe. A majority of the iron nails and staples had rusted to the point that they had ruptured and lost their ability to hold the wood together. In addition, layers of pigment from later restorations were flaking badly. One spur inside the head of the staff was missing. A large amount of dust and soot adhered to the figure. The hoju (wish-fulfilling jewel), six -ringed staff, base and halo were all Edo-period replacements.

Condition of the Surface
of the Face
The Joint Below the Sando (Three Horizontal Grooves
in the Neck)
The Damage
on the Right Hand

Research Undertaken at Koshoji Temple
Research was Undertaken at Koshoji Temple on January 20 and 22, 2005.

Day One: Confirmation that this was the statue which had been stolen was undertaken with the chief priest, parishioner representative and members of the Kumagaya Education Board acting as witnesses. Unfortunately, there were no photographs of the missing statue and as it had been kept in a closed shrine, it was hardly ever seen so even the priest (who also serves as the chief priest of nearby Jokoin Temple) and local inhabitants were unable to state categorically that this was the stolen statue. As a result, measurements were taken of the traces remaining on the floor of the shrine and photographs taken to compare these with the base of the statue.
Traces of the Base Remaining Inside the Shrine
The Outline of the Statue that Remains Inside the Shrine

Day Two: We took the statueユs base and halo and again with the priest, members of the Kumagaya Education Board and other people concerned, compared these to the traces remaining inside the shrine. These were seen to be an exact match and the information was transmitted to the Kumagaya Education Board. Proof that this was the stolen statue having been obtained in this way, the case took major step towards conclusion.

Checking the Base
Checking the Height of the Base with
the Shadow on the Wall

X-Ray Photography

Before restoration work began, the statue was x-rayed. This permitted us to see exactly where nails or staples had been used as well as to verify whether or not the statue contained anything inside. This step is indispensable as it also allows us to see how the wood has been joined together and the direction of the grain. In this case it allowed us to grasp a rough idea of the construction and the position of the joints, while showing clearly that a large number of iron nails and staples had been used. It is interesting to see the way in which small pieces of wood have been used in an irregular fashion. However, the document that was later found inside the figure could not be seen at this point due to its position and the materials used etc.

Restoring this Statue
Restoration Policy:
To totally dismantle and restore the statue while leaving its appearance basically untouched.

This statue displays aspects of the Muromachi statue as well as those of the Edo-period HOKKYO Jokyo's work and the choice of which of these to preserve was the first question to be answered before determining the restoration policy. A restoration committee was formed, various restoration guidelines were proposed and the subject was discussed from a variety of viewpoints.
The conclusions were as follows.

The main consideration when carrying out this research was that the statue belongs to a temple where it serves as an object of veneration. The statue was removed from its original position due to unfortunate circumstances, but for restoration purposes, it should be returned as near as possible to the state it was in before this incident. In other words, it was decided that the aim of the research/restoration project should be to give precedence to the work of HOKKYO Jokyo.


The glue used on the seams to join the wood had deteriorated to the extent that the statue was on the verge of disintegration so it was decided to dismantle the entire work and remove the old glue.The glue was softened with warm water and removed. In order to prevent the erosion of the wood by rust, all the rust left by old nails and staples was removed from the various wooden parts.
When the statue was dismantled, a document bearing the writing described later was discovered inside. After the right foot was removed, the document was found inside the hollow body amid wood shavings and dust. It was not affixed to the body in any way but appeared to have been simply thrust inside. However, the contents of this inscription were to have a powerful influence on the fate of this statue.

The Removal of the Right Foot
The Document Removed from Inside the Body
The Document Unfolded to Display the Inscription
*The Writing in Red Shows the Keywords
Photographs of the Dismantled Figure

The statue consists of a remarkably large number of parts, but the original wood displays clearly the techniques used in its construction.

The Wood Used in
Construction, Front View
The Wood Used in Construction,
Rear View
Wood Used in the Original
Construction, Front View
Wood Used in the Origina
l Construction, Rear View

Reconstructing the Various Parts

The Small pieces of Wood are Built Up. They are affixed to each other using localized applications of mugiurushi (a mixture of flour, rice paste and raw lacquer).

The Wood that Hides the Ring
on the Priest's Surplice on
the original statue
Replacement wood
Replacement Wood on Either Side of the Original Material
Thin Wood Used to
Fill Gap
Wood to Create Volume on the Elbow
Small Pieces of Wood Used as Repair Material
The Joints that the X-rays Showed in the Hollowed Section The four main pieces of timber, two front, two rear, that constitute the main body have had their insides hollowed out. The problem with this method of construction is that the more material that is removed from the inside, the less surface area there is to glue the parts back together. However, in this statue the problem has been overcome by retaining sufficient material inside the body to create mortise joints to join the timbers.

The eyes were given a coating of thin glue to prevent the color from flaking, they were then returned to their sockets using new Japanese paper and cotton. Gaps in the wood dating from the Edo-period restoration were filled using urushi kokuso (a mixture of sawdust and lacquer) to increase their strength.
The bamboo pegs used to fix them in place were returned to their original positions.

Replacement Parts

Separate wood was used to carve a replacement for the end of the fifth finger of the right hand which was then cut to
the required length and transplanted onto the statue. A
bamboo peg was put through the joint to strengthen it.

The gap in the joint in the neck below the sando was filled
with new wood. This was further strengthened by using
urushi kokuso, (a putty consisting of lacquer and sawdust)
to fill the small gaps. The composition of the Urushi kokuso
will be discussed below.

Positioning of Original Record and New Record of Restoration Inside Statue

The Original Record was Reinforced with a Backing of New Paper Backing
Undertaken by Issei Conservation and
Restoration Laboratory
A Record of the Current Restoration

The original record was reinforced with a backing
of new paper and placed inside a box
of paulownia wood together with a record of the
current restoration, then returned inside the body
and the head fixed into place.
This provides a complete record of the two major
restorations of the figure, one in the Edo period and one in the Heisei period.

Lacquering Process / Surface Preparation

1. Urushi Kokuso (Lacquer Putty) Application

The gaps in the seams that are created through sculpting are strengthened using urushi kokuso
(lacquer putty). There are four ways of preparing urushi kokuso, as listed below, each having its
own uses. (Mugiurushi consists of equal quantities of flour dough and raw lacquer. The cypress
sawdust is divided into three grades: rough, fine and ultrafine)

 - Mugiurushi + rough sawdust (appropriate amount)
   + fine sawdust
 - Mugiurushi + fine sawdust (appropriate amount)
  + ultrafine sawdust
 - Lacquer + 'Chinese' tabu powder (powdered bark
  of the Machilus thunbergii tree) mixed into a paste
  with warm water + fine sawdust (appropriate
 - One part lacquer + two to three parts 'true' tabu
  powder mixed into a paste with warm water.

2. Preparing the Seams and Shaping Small Missing Pieces

After being dismantled, the parts were glued back together using spots of mugiurushi adhesive,
any small gaps that remained were filled using urushi kokuso to strengthen the structure. This
urushi kokuso used tabu powder as the main ingredient, and the formula was carefully
determined to facilitate modeling and drying. This tabu powder can be divided into three types:
specially produced 'true powder', Chinese powder and tabu leaf powder. Experiments were
carried out to check adhesion and drying shrinkage of each, determining that the specially
produced 'true powder' to be the best and this was the material used most in this work.

First the tabu powder was mixed with warm water until suitable adhesion was obtained, then the
lacquer was mixed in gradually. Equal parts of water and powder were used to create a paste,
that was then mixed with lacquer at a ratio of three to one. After the tabu paste and lacquer
were mixed, cypress sawdust was added until an appropriate consistency was achieved. The
basic ratio of lacquer to tabu was one to three, but where additional strength was required to fill
gaps in the wood, the amount of lacquer was increased as appropriate.

As the shaping continued, constant adjustments were made to the amount of lacquer used.
While using urushi kokuso we experimented in using powdered cedar as well as tabu but we
found this lacking in adhesive qualities and also more difficult to work with so it was not utilized
in this project.

The areas that were formed using urushi kokuso can be seen below

Areas Where Urushi Kokuso Filling was Applied (Marked in Red)

3 Cloth Covering

Samples were taken of the hempen cloth used in the Edo-period restoration and similar material
procured for the current project. The cloth was attached using noriurushi (a mixture of lacquer
and rice paste). The cloth used was extremely finely woven so experiments were carried out to
ascertain the optimum ratio of lacquer to paste in order to ensure that the noriurushi soaked into
it. The results showed that a ratio of three parts paste to two parts lacquer was ideal. Where the
cloth overlapped itself, creating unevenness, it was rubbed down using sandpaper wherever

Cloth Covering Test Plate

Halfway Through Application of Sabishitaji
(a clay-like primer)
Application of Sabiurushi Primer

4. Sabiurushi Primer

Sabiurushi (a mixture of tonoko [burnt clay] and
seshimeurushi [sap taken from the branch of the lacquer
tree]) is rubbed into the texture of the cloth. After this has
been repeated several times, the surface is rubbed down. The
burnt clay was mixed with water to create a paste before
adding it to the lacquer.
Surface Preparation Complete

5. Roiro Lacquer

After the Sabiurushi primer has been rubbed down, it is given
several coats of lacquer that has
been thinned with camphor oil. A thin, even coat of roiro
lacquer (lacquer with no oil content) is also applied to
prevent any discoloration after the statue has been finished
using 'aged' coloring.

6. Undercoat for 'Aged' Coloring

In order to provide a base for the 'aged' coloring, the roiro
lacquer has another thin coat of
sabiurushi rubbed into its surface after it has hardened. This
facilitates the adhesion of the
pigments on the surface when the coloring is applied.

Aged Coloring
In order that the statue resemble its pre-restoration state as closely as possible, it was colored to
create an aged effect. The flesh area was colored using gofun (a white pigment derived from sea
shells) for the basic tone with other natural pigments and mixed with glue.

Several Thin Coats of Gofun are Applied
The Flesh Areas After Application
'Dust' is Applied
Depth is Built Up
The Build-up of Dust in the Folds of the Robes is Recreated
The Eyebrows and Lips are Applied
Further Depth is Applied

The pedestal was considered to have sufficient strength to support the statue in the future so
work on this consisted mainly of cleaning and prevention of flaking.

Removal of Dust
Cleaning the Fine Details

1. Removal of Dust
The dust was cleaned off using soft brushes and cotton wool.

2. Cleaning
The cleaning was undertaken using a soft brush and a solution of one part ethanol to one part
purified water. Where the dirt refused to be moved, a 0.04% solution of ammonia and water was
used. (0.7cc of 29% ammonia solution was added to 500cc of water so the precise solution was

When cleaning the lotus petals rayon paper was soaked in a solution of ethanol and purified water
and placed on the job for approximately thirty minutes to soften the caked soot before work
started. When rayon paper is soaked, it softens, allowing it to conform to the shape of the fine
details without damaging them.

Restoration of the Flaking Layer
Cleaning of the Base.
The area on the right shows its condition before cleaning. The left side shows after cleaning
Using a Hot Iron to Prevent Flaking

3. Restoration of Flaking
The flaking layer of gold leaf was temporarily restored using methyl-cellulose in places.

4. Chemical washes

The severe dirt on the metal ornaments and metal brackets
was cleaned by wrapping them in paper that was soaked in a
0.04% solution of ammonia and purified water then
covering with cling wrap for approximately twenty
minutes. Afterwards, the dirt was removed using cotton
buds or a glass-fiber pen.
Cleaning the Metalwork

5. Arresting Flaking

Where flaking occurred it was fixed using a solution of one part Primal AC to one part water.
Where the flaking was exceptionally bad, it was fixed in place using paper, Teflon sheet and a hot

- Accessories

The hoju (wish-fulfilling jewel) and six-ringed staff were cleaned using a 1:1 solution of ethanol
and purified water. The glue on the base of the hoju was softened by applying a wet cloth for
about one hour, then scraped off using a bamboo spatula. The missing projection on the inside of
the head of the staff and the staff itself were replaced using good quality cypress wood.

Before Restoration
With Missing Projection Replaced
The Joint with the New Staff

- Halo

Cleaning was undertaken using a 1:1 solution of ethanol and purified water on a soft brush. Rayon
paper soaked in a 1:1 solution of ethanol and purified water was used to soften the dirt which
was then removed using a bamboo skewer.

Hoju on Halo Before Cleaning
After Cleaning it Regains its Shine

- Chest Ornament
The cleaning was undertaken using mainly a 0.04% solution of ammonia and water.

- Record of Restoration Committee Activities

 Thurs, May 19, 2005. First Restoration Committee meeting (discussion of restoration policy)
 Fri. September 30, 2005. Second Restoration Committee meeting (discussion of restoration
 Fri. November 4, 2005. Receipt of restoration records discovered inside the statue
 Thurs. November 17, 2005. Figure transported to the restoration laboratory
 Thurs. February 23, 2006. Progress report
 Thurs. March 16, 2006. Third Restoration Committee meeting (discussion on patination of
 Tues. March 28, 2006. Application for extension of research period
 Wed. May 10, 2006. Meeting held to confirm progress
 Wed. May 24, 2006. Fourth Restoration Committee meeting (Final confirmation meeting)
 June, 2006. Restoration work completed
 Thurs. July 6, 2006. Private view of research results at the Sculpture Conservation and
 Restoration Laboratory, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music
 Sun. July 30, 2006. Transportation and setting up of statue

Concerning HOKKYO Jokyo

1. Introduction

During the restoration of the standing figure of Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha), belonging to Koshoji
Temple, Saitama Prefecture, an inscription was discovered inside the figure stating that it was a
statue that had been restored in the Edo period by the Buddhist sculptor, HOKKYO Jokyo. In the
course of dismantling and restoration, it was discovered that members of the main body and
part of the sleeve used wood dating back to the Muromachi period (1338-1573). Referring to
HOKKYO Jokyo's other work in addition to what we learned from his work on this statue, we will
attempt to offer a discussion of his restoration philosophy.

2. Concerning the Statue of Emperor Nintoku to be found
 at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine

There is a statue said to be of Emperor Nintoku (23.5 cm high by 9.5 cm deep at stomach and
17.9 cm wide at knees), wearing ikan sokutai (formal Court dress) and with a sword at his waist
in the Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine (Shimo-Fukuda, Yamato City, Kanagawa City). This statue is
yosegi-zukuri (made of multiple pieces of wood), has crystal eyes and has been colored. The
following inscription was discovered inside the base.

 This inscription contains two sets of writing, and it is believed the part shown here in red was
written when the statue was first created and the remainder was written during a later
restoration. It states that the figure was sculpted by HOKKYO Jokyo in 1746 then repaired in
1812 by YOSHIMI Hyobu in 1812.

HOKKYO Jokyo and YOSHIMI Hyobu both came from Edo (present-day Tokyo). Hyobu was an
apprentice of YOSHIMI Seikei who in 1805 restored the statue of Zendo Daishi (Shan-dao) at
Koshinji Temple in Yokosuka and also worked with Seikei to restore the statue of the sitting
figure of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha) in the Fudo-do of Narita Temple (year unknown).

The standing figure of Jizo dealt with in this article is the only known original work by HOKKYO
Jokyo and very little research has been carried out on him.

3. Concerning the Standing Figure of Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha), Belonging to Koshoji Temple, Saitama Pref.

The inscription inside Koshoji Temple's standing figure of Jizo Bosatsu proves that it is a unique
example of the work of HOKKYO Jokyo.

The inscription reads, 'Eleventh day, sixth month 1691' the 'believers in Jizo Bosatsu of Imai
Village' asked 'the Buddhist sculptor Hokkyo Jokyo of Nakahashi, Edo,' to produce a statue.

The main characteristic of this statue is that the timber used in the body and part of the sleeve
dates back to the Muromachi period while the rest has been added at a later date. This wood
from the Muromachi period did not form the shape of a Buddha, and so Jokyo's work can be said
to have gone beyond mere restoration of a Muromachi statue. In those times, even though the
wood was no longer in the shape of a statue, the mere fact that it was all that remained of a
statue that had been passed down from the Muromachi period made it a subject of veneration
and therefore its inclusion in a new statue had great significance. The way in which the old wood
has been incorporated into this statue of Jizo Bosatsu created by Jokyo offers us an insight into
the philosophy of restoration that existed at the time.

4. The Edo-period Philosophy of Restoration

Koshoji Temple's standing figure of Jizo Bosatsu is extremely important in that it offers a chance
for us to understand the restoration philosophy of the Edo period. We can understand why the
inclusion of timbers from a statue of Jizo Bosatsu that had been worshiped since the Muromachi
period would make the new statue all the more holy.

It is often said that compared to the earlier periods, the Buddhist statues of the Edo period used
inferior materials in order to lower costs and due to the fact that they were produced in large
numbers, they lack in individuality. However, we can see from this work that not all of them were
created in this way.

According to today's restoration philosophy, timbers dating back to the Muromachi period
would be prized for their cultural value and it is extremely unlikely that they would be
recombined and carved to create a new work. In all probability the old timbers would be stored
away and a completely new statue created. In this respect, Jokyo's restoration philosophy
seems remarkably original and makes us reconsider our own thoughts on the subject. Likewise, in
the case of the statue of Emperor Nintoku at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine that was made by
Jokyo then later restored by YOSHIMI Hyobu, if we could understand the circumstances in which
it was restored, then the restoration philosophy of another sculptor would become evident.


'Yamato-shi no Chokoku' (Sculpture of Yamato City) by MIYAMA Susumu, Edited by Archives
Division, Administration Dept., Yamato-shi Council. Yamato-shi-shi kenkyu (Historical Research
of Yamato City), First Issue 1975.

'Zoku Yamato-shi no Chokoku' (Statues of Yamato City Vol. 2) by MIYAMA Susumu, Edited by
General Affairs Dept., Administration Dept., Yamato-shi Council. Yamato-shi-shi kenkyu (Historical Research of Yamato City), Second Issue 1975.

'Yamato-shi no chokoku to munafuda no chosa' (Research into the Sculpture and Roof Beam
Writings of Yamato City) by HINO Ichiro, Edited by Archives Division, Administration Dept.
Yamato-shi Council. Yamato-shi shikenkyu (Historical Research of Yamato City), First Edition


Before we finish, we would like to thank everybody who offered advice and encouragement during
the research and restoration of this work. We hope that they will continue to support us as we
further our studies in this field.

Statue Returned to Temple
Service After the Statue was Returned